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Volume 7054

A Short Murder Mystery Puzzle

Part of a series written between 1932 and 1940
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Featuring Police Inspector Muldoon and
his trusted biographer and sidekick, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Warrington is a swank suburb. The best stores and shops in the nearby metropolis have branches there. The local tradesmen have not only well-to-do patrons, but very wealthy ones as well; so Warrington supports three banks, two branch banks and one independent: The Warrington National Bank.

About six o'clock one evening Inspector Muldoon telephoned me and asked me if I would like to drive out to Warrington with him.

"Who's been murdered now?" I asked.

"A bank examiner."

"Now, who would want to murder a bank examiner?" I demanded.

"Probably a banker," said Muldoon, "but that is what I am going out there to find out. Do you want to come along, or don't you?

"Sure, I want to come. Anyone who commits a murder just when I am about to dress for dinner and an evening of Contract deserves to be apprehended, and I want to see it done."

"Unless your bridge has improve a lot, you should be grateful to him; he will probably have saved you as much as thirty cents, if you're still playing for your usual stakes."

"Thirty cents are thirty cents," I said. "I'll be waiting for you."

Muldoon picked me up a few minutes later, and at a quarter before seven we entered the Warrington National Bank. A police officer just inside the doorway directed us to the President's office.

There, we found Mike Jarvis of the homicide squad and two of his men. In addition to these there were six other men. One was sitting at a large, imposing looking desk; the others on a leather divan and leather covered chairs.

"Well?" inquired Muldoon of Jarvis, I found these six men here when I come in. All I can get out of 'em is that a man named Morgan is dead downstairs in the directors' room. This Morgan was a bank examiner, and he'd been goin' over the bank's books all this week.

"This bein' Saturday, the bank closed at one o'clock; and every one went home except these men and the examiner. About four o'clock, this Morgan goes downstairs. The washroom is down there, and between four and five o'clock every man who was still in the bank went down to the washroom. 

"Around five, someone realized that they hadn't seen noting of the bank examiner for about an hour, so they sends this young feller down to find him. He found him -- dead in the directors' room."

"I'll go down and have a look," said Muldoon. "You come along, Mike." He turned to one of Jarvis's men. "You two see that no one leaves this room," then he motioned me to accompany him, and we three went downstairs. 

Morgan had evidently been sitting in one of the directors' chairs with his back toward the door, smoking a cigarette. HIs body was sprawled forward across the great table that almost filled the room. The cigarette had burned down to his fingers before it had gone out, and the butt was still clenched there in his dead hand. The back of his head had been caved in with some blunt instrument. The murderer must have entered quietly behind him, and Morgan had probably died without ever knowing that his life was in danger. 

Muldoon took a slow turn about the room, stopping at a fireplace at one end. He knelt there and carefully examined the contents , then he reached in and drew out a hammer, the handle of which was badly charred. 

"The fingerprints went up the flue," he remarked. "but here is something that didn't." He gingerly lifted out some charred bits of paper and laid them on a newspaper on the table. "Get me some more of these, Mike," he directed, as he commenced to examine those he had, using the pocket microscope with which I was so familiar. 

Jarvis salvaged several of the remaining larger pieces and brought them to the table, and for several minutes no one spoke as Muldoon concentrated on his examination.

"They look to me," said Muldoon, "like a record of securities held as collateral. Let's go upstairs."

The men were sitting just as we had left them. The air was thick with tobacco smoke, possibly evidencing the nervousness of those waiting there. 

Muldoon paced up and down the room for a full minute without speaking, then he turned and suddenly on one of the men. "What is your name?" he demanded. Muldoon has a way of asking the most innocuous question in such a way as to make it sound like an accusation, but this  man never turned a hair, he just smiled.

"King," he replied.

"You work here?"

"Yes, I am a teller."

"How old are you?"

Again the man smiled. He as about the coolest proposition I ever saw. "If I were four years young," he said, "I'd be one year older than that man there who is twenty years young and much poorer than the man sitting at the desk and who has the same name as he."

"Are you trying to be funny?" demanded Muldoon. "If you are, you'd better save it for the jury, they'd be more appreciative than I."

King smiled that rather supercilious smile of his. "I am not trying to be funny I am merely stating facts. Your reputation for deductive reasoning is well known. I shall be interested in seeing you at work. Furthermore, someone in this room must have killed Mr. Morgan. As all of those who might have killed him are my friends, I do not wish to be a party to the apprehension of the guilty one."

I saw a suggestion of amusement on Muldoon's eyes, and I knew that he had accepted the challenge. H turned next to a noticeably well dressed man sitting at the right of the man at the big desk. "Who are you?" he asked.

I am the doctor that Mr. James called in after the --ah--"



"What is your name, doctor?"

"My name is the same as the only man in the room who is exactly fifteen years younger than Thaddeus James and five years older than Ralph James. It was evident that the doctor was taking his cue from King.

The shadow of a smile touch Muldoon's lips, he was evidently enjoying this. Then he wheeled on the man sitting at the desk. "You are Mr. Thaddeus James?" he asked.

The man had been chewing nervously on an unlighted cigar. He took it out of his mouth, and said, "Yes."

"How old are you," asked Muldoon. "I suppose you are seven years older than someone else who is eight years younger than some other person."

James smiled. "No," he replied; "I am twice as old as the young gentleman whom King describes as being poorer than I."

"Well, that helps a lot," said Muldoon; "now we are getting someplace. 

I had noticed a small man half asleep in his chair in a corner of the room. He didn't seem to be paying any attention to what had been going on. Muldoon suddenly stopped in front of him and scrutinized him intently for several moments as though he were some strange and unfamiliar species of insect. Muldoon is a very large man, and when he stands in front of a sitting victim and inspects him in this manner it usually induces a feeling of abject inferiority in the sitter that renders him easy prey.

"What do you do for a living?" he demanded.

"I am a clerk in this bank."

"What did you do with those securities you stole?" thundered Muldoon.

The man looked Muldoon straight in the eyes. 

"You are barking up the wrong tree, Inspector," he said. "I am disappointed in you , you are not living up to your reputation,"

"How old are you?"

"I am the same age as the twins in this room."

"What is your name?"

The man grinned. "The same as the man who is five years younger than the man who is fifteen years older than Ralph James."

Muldoon walked the length of the room several times immersed in deep thought, or apparently so; you never can tell about Muldoon. He might have been planning on what he was going to have for dinner. Presently he stopped in front of the desk.

"Now, Mr. James, " he said, "how long have you known Mr. Crowder and what is he doing here?"

"Which one?" asked James. "There are two Crowders in the room. One of them is my attorney, whom I telephoned to come over immediately when the body was discovered."

"I mean your attorney, whom I have known for several years," replied Muldoon. 

"I have known him for one-third of his life and one-quarter of mine; I first met him when Ralph was ten years old."

"Do you k now who killed Morgan, Mr. King?" snapped the Inspector, wheeling quickly around and facing the teller. 

"Yes, sir," replied King.

"It was you, wasn't it?" asked Muldoon softly. "Didn't Mr. Morgan discover a shortage in your accounts?"

"I can answer no to both of those questions. The man who killed Mr. Morgan was five years older than I."

"Thank you, Mr. King," said Muldoon, and then he turned to Jarvis. "Mike, there is your man," and he pointed.

At whom did the Inspector point?

The Solution is presented below. . . 



There are six men in the room. We wish to establish their names and ages. We will first write down six numbers and then fill in the information as we deduce it.
*** No. 1: Doctor King -- 35 years old
*** No. 2: King -- Teller --  25 years old
*** No. 3: The young man -- James -  40 years old -- Ralph
*** No. 4: Thaddeus James -- 40 years old
*** No. 5: Clerk -- Crowder -- 30 years old
*** No. 6: Crowder -- Attorney -- 30 years old

The first man whom Muldoon questions is King. Because I work backwards sometimes, this man happens to be No. 2, and we enter his name accordingly. He is a teller.

The next man is the doctor; so we enter "doctor" after No. 1.

The Next is Thaddeus James. He will be No. 4.

James mentions the young man. He will be No. 3. And his name being the same, according to King, as the man sitting at the desk, we can enter his name also.

King has said that young James is twenty years young than the elder James, and the elder James has said that he is twice as old as the younger James. Let x stand for the age of the younger James; we than have the simple equation: 2x = x + 20; therefore , x = 20, giving the age of the younger James as 20 and the older James as 40.

King, the teller, said that if he were four years younger, he'd be one year older than the younger James so King must be five years older than the younger James, or 25.

The doctor said his name was the same as the only man in the room who was exactly fifteen years younger than Thaddeus James, 40-15=25, so the doctor's name is King.

The next is the clerk. He mentions Ralph James, so we know the young James' first name. 

James says there are two Crowders in the room; so 5 and 6 must both be Crowders. On is the clerk, the other an attorney.

James has known Attorney Crowder for one-quarter of James's life, or ten years, and as that is one-third of Crowder's life, Crowder must be thirty.

Clerk Crowder mentions a man fifteen years older than Ralph James whose name cannot be Crowder, therefore a man of 35. As we know that Teller King is 25, the younger James 20, and the elder James 40, then the man who is thirty-five must be Doctor King.

As no two of the above are the same age, neither the Kings nor the Jameses can be twins, so the Crowders must be twins, and therefore Clerk Crowder is 30.

Teller King says that the man who killed Morgan was five years older than he, or thirty years old. The Crowder twins are the only men present who are that age, and as Attorney Crowder did not reach the bank until after the murder, Clerk Crowder was the man at whom Inspector Muldoon pointed.

ERB'S Murder Mystery Puzzles


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